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04/26/2017 / N.J. Garland

Children Who Abuse

Issue of Children Who Abuse Other Children Cannot Be Ignored

by Simon Hackett

A recent string of high-profile cases involving “celebrity perpetrators” along with a series of ongoing inquiries into historical child abuse in the UK has brought sexual abuse into the public consciousness in an unprecedented way. Similar inquiries are also underway internationally — notably the ongoing Australian Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, which has spent the past four years hearing testimony from thousands of Australian survivors.

It is arguable that the media attention given to these high-profile cases has increased the number of people coming forward to disclose their experiences of abuse. But while this is obviously a good thing, the way these cases are often portrayed and covered, tends to reinforce unhelpful stereotypes.

This includes the idea that all abuse is carried out by adult pedophiles preying on vulnerable children. And as a consequence, means that the issue of child sexual abuse committed by other children is significantly downplayed.

Official figures indicate that between a fifth and a third of all cases of child sexual abuse in the UK involve “perpetrators” under the age of 18 — but the figures could in fact be much higher. In a random UK general population survey of more than 6,000 people, a staggering two-thirds of the sexual abuse reported by respondents in their childhoods, had been committed by other children.

Even when reports of child and adolescent perpetrated child sexual abuse gains media attention, it is often portrayed in a way that presents the children as mini versions of adult sex offenders, or “pedophiles in waiting.” The reality, of course, is somewhat different — with many high profile studies suggesting that most children and young people who commit sexual offences in their adolescence do not then carry on sexually offending in adulthood.

Protection versus criminalization

For many of these child perpetrators, their own histories of abuse play a role in their offending behaviors. This is often part and parcel of an enmeshed experience of trauma, neglect and pain — which has also been shown in our research. We conducted the largest UK study of young people who had sexually abused other children. Of the 700 children we spoke to, we found that 50 percent of young abusers had themselves been victims of sexual abuse. Our research also showed that 50 percent had experienced physical abuse or domestic violence in their lives.

Seen through this lens, we need to respond to these cases carefully. Yes, we need to protect victims and stop these children from abusing, but our interventions shouldn’t stop there. We need services that can offer expert help to children and their families to prevent further victimization and help them lead offense-free lives in the long-term.

Such services are sadly lacking at the moment, but the recently launched NSPCC operational framework should help agencies to get their acts together as this framework provides a structure for local safeguarding children boards to help them implement their policies and practice responses.

Realities of abuse

We also need to have better awareness of the realities of child sexual abuse – along with the issue of children and young people who harm others sexually. Because a lack of public knowledge around this promotes a distorted and stereotypical view of child sexual abuse. This can often lead to the overplay of some risks — such as “stranger danger” — while underplaying others.

Failing to understand the specific needs of children and young people, who present with harmful sexual behaviors, also means that they are more likely to receive inappropriate criminal justice responses that are designed with adults in mind. This can include being placed on the sex offender register or, in the US, “community notification schemes.” These publish details of young people and adult sex offenders, including their addresses, offense details and photographs online. Such measures, being inherently adult focused, at best fail to provide a balanced response to the issue of harmful sexual behavior. And at worst, they may cause irreparable developmental damage to children who fundamentally need our help.

Simon Hackett, is a professor in the school of applied social sciences, Durham University. This article first appeared on The Conversation (


1.) “Issue of Children Who Abuse Other Children Cannot Be Ignored,” 03/06/17, by Simon Hackett, Independent (UK), [WWW document] URL

04/20/2017 / N.J. Garland

Teachers and Touching

Teachers who avoid touching children are guilty of child abuse, experts claim

by Rachael Pells

Child psychologists say physical contact with pupils is “absolutely essential” for brain development

Teachers who avoid physical contact with children in the classroom are guilty of child abuse, experts have claimed.

Members of the British Psychological Society (BPS) said teachers who do not touch children when they are happy, upset or worried could in fact cause harm and hinder pupils’ development.

“What’s missing is a recognition of how important touch is,” child psychologist Sean Cameron told TES, “And that withholding touch is, in itself, a form of psychological abuse.”

Psychologists from the society have called on schools to change their attitudes towards physical contact with students, explaining to parents that touch is not only necessary, but an integral part of the teacher-pupil relationship.

Professor Francis McGlone, head of affective neuroscience at Liverpool John Moores University, said that physical contact with students is “absolutely essential” for children’s brain development.

Speaking at a British Psychological Society conference on touch in schools and children’s services he said denying physical contact was akin to “denying a child oxygen.”

“I get very exercised about the demonization of touch,” he said. “It’s cruel, in my mind. It’s another form of abuse.

“The scientific evidence is incontrovertible. I’m not just talking psycho nonsense; I’m talking about proper, evidenced neuroscience.”

While physical contact between teachers and students is not illegal, the Government advises schools to have a “no touch” policy.

Department for Education guidance states that while it is often necessary or desirable for a teacher to touch a child, for instance when dealing with accidents or teaching musical instruments, physical contact can easily be deemed inappropriate and unprofessional.

At the BPS conference last week, former Prime Minister David Cameron said, in his experience, many headteachers viewed touching a child as an unjustifiable risk.

He said: “By discouraging touch, you’re depriving a young person of a very humane reaction. But you’re also setting up a situation where a young person can use this as a tool to put down or control a teacher. It’s a double whammy, really.”

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers teaching union, said her union acknowledged that a humane relationship with pupils involved occasional physical contact. But she added that she would always advise teachers to be cautious.

“Don’t put yourself in a dangerous position,” she said. “Don’t put yourself in a situation where a child can accuse you of inappropriate contact.

“Of course, children must be protected. But teachers also have a right not to have their career ruined by false accusations.”


1.) “Teachers who avoid touching children are guilty of child abuse, experts claim,” 02/18/17, by Rachael Pells, Independent (UK), [WWW document] URL

04/17/2017 / N.J. Garland

The Abused Child’s Health at Age 50

Child Abuse ‘Affects Health Decades Later’

by Hannah Richardson

People who were maltreated as children are more likely to have poor health and living standards decades later, a study suggests.

The researchers tracked 8,076 people born in 1958 until the age of 50.

Those who had been abused were 70% more likely to have long-term illnesses and to not own their homes by the age of 50 than those who had not, they found.

The University College London team said those who had experienced more than one form of abuse had doubly bad outcomes.

This was compared with those who had suffered no abuse or maltreatment.

‘Peak earnings’

The study, published in US journal, Pediatrics, and undertaken as part of the Public Health Research Consortium, showed that the potential impact of child neglect and abuse could have socio-economic impacts for decades.

The researchers found that neglected children often had worse reading and math skills in adolescence than their peers.

This could hamper their ability to find work and progress in the job market, they said.

But these factors did not explain the poorer standard of living for those reporting child abuse, they added.

A person’s economic circumstances at the age of 50 are important as it is close to the peak earning capacity in the UK, the study said.

‘Action needed’

Poor living standards at this age can signal hardship and associated ill-health during old age, it added.

Dr. Snehal Pinto Pereira, of UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, who led the research, said: “Our findings suggest that maltreated children grow up to face socio-economic disadvantage.

“This is important because such disadvantage could in turn influence the health of individuals affected and also that of their children.

“As well as highlighting the importance of prevention of maltreatment in childhood, our research identified poor reading and mathematics skills as a likely connecting factor from child neglect to poor adult outcomes.

“This suggests that action is needed to improve and support these abilities in neglected children.”


1.)Child Abuse ‘Affects Health Decades Later,’” 12/19/16, by Hannah Richardson, BBC News, [WWW document] URL

04/10/2017 / N.J. Garland

Catholic Church and Child Abuse in Australia

Australian Catholic Church Has Abused Thousands of Children, Inquiry Finds

by Rachel Roberts

The Australian Catholic Church was accused of giving “God a bad name” as it emerged that seven per cent of its priests had been accused of abuse between 1950 and 2010, but few cases were ever investigated.

Francis Sullivan, head of the Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council, held back tears as he said the number of abusers was “shocking” and “indefensible.”

Data compiled by the council showed 1,265 Catholic priests, religious brothers and nuns had been accused between 1950 and 2010. It was compiled for the country’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The commission — Australia’s highest form of public inquiry — is also investigating abuse at non-religious institutions, including schools and sports clubs. It began in 2013 and has heard hours of harrowing testimony from alleged victims.

Its research showed that 4,444 people had made allegations of abuse to 93 Catholic authorities between 1980 and 2015.

“As Catholics, we hang our heads in shame,” Father Sullivan said, admitting the figures reflected “a massive failure” by the Church to protect children.

Anthony and Chrissie Foster said both of their daughters, one of whom has since died, were abused within the Catholic Church.

“The Catholic priesthood gave God a bad name,” Ms. Foster told Australian broadcaster, ABC News. “They’re a disgrace. They’re unremorseful.

“For so long this has been the way they acted to hide perpetrators, to move them on, with no regard for children whatsoever, that other children have become victims, and suffered this terrible fate.”

The Commission found of the 1,880 alleged perpetrators from within the Catholic Church, 572 were priests.

The worst-offending institutions were the orders of brothers who often ran schools and homes for the most vulnerable children, with girl victims aged 10.5 on average, while boys were 11.6 years old, the commission’s research showed.

The church surveyed 10 religious institutions and 75 church authorities to uncover the abuse data on priests, non-ordained brothers and sisters, and other church personnel employed between 1950 and 2009.

Prosecutions have been launched in 27 of the 309 abuse cases the commission has referred to Australian police, with 75 more being investigated, it said.

On average, it took 33 years for each victim to report the abuse, and when they finally spoke, their tales were “depressingly familiar,” said Ms. Furness.

She added: “Documents were not kept, or they were destroyed. Secrecy prevailed as did cover-ups. Children were ignored or worse, punished. Allegations were not investigated. Priests and religious [figures] were moved. The parishes or communities to which they were moved knew nothing of their past.”

In one religious order, St John of God Brothers, over 40 per cent of church figures were accused of being abusers.

Several senior figures from within the Australian Catholic Church will testify over the coming weeks, watched closely by the Vatican.

Last year, Australia’s most senior Catholic who is Pope Francis’ financial adviser, gave evidence.

Cardinal George Pell said the Church had made “enormous mistakes” and “catastrophic” choices by refusing to believe abused children, shuffling abusive priests from parish to parish and over-relying on counseling of priests to solve the problem.

The cleric was not accused of abuse himself, and he denied that he knew there were pedophile priests active in his diocese during the 1970s and 1980s.

The commission’s final report is due by the end of this year.


1.) “Australian Catholic Church Has Abused Thousands of Children, Inquiry Finds,” 02/06/17, by Rachel Roberts, Independent (UK), [WWW document] URL

04/05/2017 / N.J. Garland

Rapists to Marry Their Victims and Go Free

Turkey child rape protests: Thousands take to streets against law that would let men off if they marry victim

by Harriet Agerholm

Thousands have taken to the streets of Istanbul and other cities in Turkey to protest against a bill that would allow child rapists to walk free if they marry their victims.

The country’s government insists the law would help resolve legal challenges caused by widespread child marriage in the country, yet critics argue the bill legitimizes rape.

In Istanbul, protesters clapped and chanted: “We will not shut up. We will not obey. Withdraw the bill immediately.”

Similar demonstrations were held in other cities, including Ankara, Izmir and Trabzon.

If the law passes, men who sexually abuse girls under 18 without “force, threat or any restriction on consent” and marry them could have their convictions quashed or avoid prosecution.

The proposed change would apply to cases between 2005 and 16 November 2016.

Protester Cigdem Evcil told the BBC: “I am a mother. How am I supposed to react to this? I can`t believe it, it’s not normal, it doesn’t make sense.

“If I let this happen to my daughter, if the mothers in this country let this happen, it means we are not mothers.”

Another protester told Associated Press: “Pardoning the crime of sexual assault, or dropping it due to prescription, is out of the question.

“People who commit sexual assault and rape crimes cannot be cleared.”

One of the women protesters who gave her name as Ruya told AFP: “We will not allow the AKP to acquit and set free rapists in this country.

“Women will resist and take to the streets until this law and similar other laws are withdrawn.”

Another protester, a middle-aged man named Ugur, attended the protest with his 14-year-old daughter.

“I am concerned about my daughter’s future,” he told AFP. “[The] AKP is passing any law they want in the parliament.”

The AKP enjoys a comfortable majority in the 550-seat parliament, holding 317 seats.

“That’s the maximum we can do. To protest,” he added.

The UN children’s fund said it was “deeply concerned” about the draft bill.

“These abject forms of violence against children are crimes which should be punished as such, and in all cases the best interest of the child should prevail,” said spokesman Christophe Boulierac.

MPs approved the draft law in its initial reading on Thursday and it will be voted on again on Tuesday, but following the controversy Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildrim has ordered the AKP to suspend talks with the opposition about the law.

Mr. Yildirim said the bill was intended to release men jailed after marrying underage girls in religious ceremonies who had received the consent of a girl’s family.

He rejected suggestions that the plan amounted to an “amnesty for rape.”

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag similarly rejected the claim, saying: “The bill will certainly not bring amnesty to rapists.”

“This is a step taken to solve a problem in some parts of our country,” he told a Nato meeting in Istanbul.

Yet Turkish bar association Izmir Barosu said in a statement: “This proposal is clearly an attack on protecting children from sexual abuse.

“We must make clear that any regulation against the protection of sexual abuse of children has no place in the public conscience.

“The proposed regulation is intended to institutionalize child abuse. Physical and sexual violence against children and women is a crime.”

The proposals have been criticized by pro-government groups. The Women’s and Democracy Association — whose deputy chairman is President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s daughter Sumeyye Erdogan Bayraktar — said a major problem with the bill would be proving what constituted force or consent.

It said: “How can the ‘own will’ of such a young girl be identified? We would like to draw attention to issues that might arise in case of it coming into force.”

A petition on urging the authorities to stop the legislation has accrued more than 600,000 signatures.

The bill comes after Turkey’s constitutional court in July annulled part of the criminal code which classified all sexual acts with children under 15 as sexual abuse, a change that also prompted uproar.

Although the legal age of consent is 18 in Turkey, child marriage is widespread, particularly in the south-east.

The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Europe, with an estimated 15 percent of girls married before their 18th birthday.


1.) “Turkey child rape protests: Thousands take to streets against law that would let men off if they marry victim,” 11/20/16, by Harriet Agerholm, Indpendent (UK), [WWW document] URL

“Women gathered in Ankara holding signs saying: “We will not let you. Rape cannot be legalized.’” (AP)




06/03/2016 / N.J. Garland

Child Abuse and Later Drug Abuse

Exploring the Role of Child Abuse in Later Drug Abuse

Researchers Face Broad Gaps in Information

by Neil Swan, NIDA NOTES Staff Writer

As many as two-thirds of all people in treatment for drug abuse report that they were physically, sexually, or emotionally abused during childhood, research shows. However, the role of child abuse — physical trauma, rape and sexual abuse, neglect, emotional abuse, and witnessing or being threatened with violence or other abuse — in the pathway to drug abuse needs closer examination. Although studies probing the effects of child abuse have increased in recent years, researchers still are confronted with broad gaps in information.

“The sheer weight of the many reports over the years certainly implicates child abuse as a possible factor in drug abuse for many people,” says Dr. Cora Lee Wetherington, NIDA’s Women’s Health Coordinator. “But we lack hard data that clearly establish and describe the role of child abuse in the subsequent development of drug abuse. Is child abuse indeed a cause of drug abuse, or is child abuse a marker for other unidentified factors?”

Many critical questions remain unanswered, NIDA researchers agree. How can child abuse victims be identified and studied to track the variables that may contribute to subsequent drug abuse? What factors lessen or strengthen the risk that child abuse will progress to drug abuse? What, in fact, constitutes child abuse?

Answers to questions such as these will help develop creative new drug abuse therapies and prevention strategies. With new knowledge, special interventions could target victims of child abuse to prevent progression to drug abuse. A better understanding of the consequences of child abuse would enable researchers to develop ways to tailor drug abuse treatment to adults who are victims of child abuse. Awareness of this potential has prompted interest among NIDA researchers in further studies into the relationship between child abuse and progression to drug abuse.

However, important obstacles hamper these investigations, which involve not only the researchers and the victims and their families, but also doctors, hospitals, psychologists, child welfare agents, police, and the justice system. The involvement of so many professional disciplines and divergent interests makes identifying victims of child abuse and gathering information from them and their families extremely difficult. Some critical information is not publicly available due to both the need for confidentiality laws designed to protect minors and the secrecy spawned by feelings of guilt or shame by victims, abusers, and family members.

The involvement of so many professional disciplines and divergent interests makes identifying victims of child abuse and gathering information from them and their families extremely difficult.

These barriers severely limit data gathering during the period when child abuse is occurring. Most data are gathered years later, in what are called retrospective assessments, from victims’ memories and self-reports. Thus, much assessment occurs only after victims have grown up or at least reached adolescence, entered treatment programs for drug abuse, and often are also experiencing other psychological disorders.

Nevertheless, researchers are making inroads.

Most information about the role of child abuse has come indirectly — from studies of drug abuse that bring to light information about childhood trauma. Some of these studies trace stress-related disorders in adult drug abusers back to childhood traumas. One example is a NIDA-funded review by Dr. Lisa M. Najavits and her colleagues at Harvard Medical School in Boston that examined 49 studies involving drug-abusing women with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Victims of PTSD re-experience trauma and terror through unexpected flashbacks or nightmares. Child abuse is one trauma that is frequently reported by PTSD patients who are drug abusers.

While drug abusers overall show high rates of coexisting PTSD diagnoses, female drug abusers show much higher rates of this dual diagnosis than do males who abuse drugs. Various studies reviewed by Dr. Najavits report that from 30 percent to 59 percent of women in drug abuse treatment also have PTSD — two to three times higher than the rate among men in treatment, according to Dr. Najavits’ review.

A history of trauma independent of PTSD is even more common among women in drug abuse treatment. The reviewed studies show that from 55 percent to 99 percent of these women reported a history of physical or sexual trauma. Most of the trauma occurred before age 18 and was commonly related to repetitive childhood physical or sexual assault. When the women are victims of both types of abuse, they are twice as likely to abuse drugs as are those who experienced only one type of abuse.

A better understanding of the consequences of child abuse would enable researchers to develop ways to tailor drug abuse treatment to the needs of drug abusers who say that they are victims of child abuse.

In another study, Dr. Najavits and her colleagues reviewed data from NIDA’s Collaborative Cocaine Treatment Study, which collected treatment and outcome data from patients at five drug abuse treatment sites in eastern cities. Dr. Najavits examined lifetime traumatic events and current PTSD symptoms of 122 adult cocaine-dependent men and women outpatients. She found a high rate of life-time exposure to traumatic events — an average of 5.7 — and a 20.5 percent rate of currently diagnosed PTSD. The patients with PTSD showed significantly more impairments and different circumstances related to their trauma. For example, they reported that their first trauma occurred at an average age of 8.4 years, significantly younger than patients without a current PTSD diagnosis, whose first reported trauma was at the average age of 13.1.

Another NIDA-funded study, which documents that women rape victims are dramatically more likely to abuse drugs than are women who are not victims, also directly implicates child abuse. Dr. Dean G. Kilpatrick at the Medical University of South Carolina found that more than 61 percent of rapes of the 4,008 women in his study occurred by age 17. About half of those occurred by age 11; these obviously were cases of child abuse. The rape victims, compared to others who were not raped, were:

  • more than three times as likely to have used marijuana;
  • six times more likely to have used cocaine; and
  • more than 10 times as likely to have used drugs other than cocaine, including heroin and amphetamines.

One recent study illustrates both progress in studying the relationship of child abuse to subsequent drug abuse and the difficulty in gathering data that specifically address that relationship. The 1997 NIDA-funded study examined data from previous ethnographic studies of drug-abusing adults in New York City. The study found a significant statistical association between inhalant abuse and the abusers’ reports that they were abused as children. However, the data do not demonstrate a causal relationship between the two, says Dr. Michael Fendrich of the University of Illinois at Chicago, the study’s principal author. Evidence of a causal role for child abuse would require more data to substantiate that the onset of child abuse occurred before the onset of inhalant abuse, he points out.

The fact that most data marking a trail from child abuse to drug abuse are collected retrospectively poses a variety of problems for researchers. Investigators recognize that memory is subjective. Also, drug abusers may choose consciously to emphasize the role of parents or others in their retrospective accounts of events leading to their drug abuse. Thus, researchers, may seek additional data from other sources, such as juvenile court records of child abuse cases.

But NIDA-funded researchers are seeking innovative approaches to address these information-gathering problems to understand the connections between child abuse and later drug abuse. Dr. Cathy Spatz Widom of the State University of New York at Albany is comparing rates of drug abuse between a group of adults who had court-substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect and a control group of their childhood peers who did not have such records. Her initial findings show little difference in rates of drug abuse between the two groups. She recognizes that other factors are, of course, involved. For example, since many cases of child abuse never wind up in court, some in the control group with no court records may have been abused as well. Also, court-ordered interventions and therapies may have reduced the prevalence of drug abuse among court-documented child abuse victims. Even so, the preliminary results cause Dr. Widom to express concerns. “Child abuse is a factor in subsequent drug abuse, but it may be much less a factor than we now believe,” she says. “Child abuse may be an important factor primarily for certain subgroups — some groups of women, for example — more than for the population in general.” Other factors, such as poverty or family substance abuse problems, play a role, too, she says.

Difficulties such as these have hindered development of drug abuse treatment and prevention approaches that specifically address the needs of child abuse victims. However, some progress has been made in enhancing treatment for specific groups, such as drug-abusing women with PTSD, that include high percentages of child abuse victims (see “Innovative Treatment Helps Traumatized Drug-Abusing Women”).

Recognizing the need for broad new research agendas, NIDA continues to encourage studies into child abuse and its relationship to drug abuse during adolescence and young adulthood. Examining the role of child abuse is a major goal of the Interagency Consortium on Violence Against Women and Violence Within the Family that NIDA has joined with a number of other Federal agencies. Also under discussion is a NIDA-sponsored scientific meeting in 1998 on drug abuse and the childhood environment.


1.) “Exploring the Role of Child Abuse in Later Drug Abuse,” by Neil Swan, NIDA Notes, Child Abuse and Drug Abuse, Volume 13, Number 2 (July 1998), [WWW document] URL

05/20/2016 / N.J. Garland

Child Abuse: Basic Facts

Child Abuse Facts

Child abuse can have damaging effects not only on the children who suffer it, but on communities that must address the aftermath of abuse. Learn the facts about child abuse and how you can help children in need.

Which children are most likely to suffer abuse or neglect?

1 in 10 children suffer from child maltreatment. 1 in 16 children suffer from sexual abuse. Nearly 1 in 10 children are witnesses to family violence.

The youngest children are the most vulnerable to maltreatment. Over 25% of abused children are under the age of three while over 45% of abused children are under the age of five.

Number of children in the United States who died because of abuse or neglect in 2012: 1,593

Of the number of children who died because of abuse or neglect:

  • 70.3% were younger than three years of age
  • 44.4% were younger than one year of age

While boys and girls are equally as likely to be victims of abuse and neglect (in 2012, 48.5% of abused children were boys while 51.2% of abused children were girls); the rate of child fatality is higher for boys (in 2012, 57.6% of child fatalities due to abuse and neglect were boys).

More than 85% of the child fatalities in 2012 were white children. However, when comparing the number of child fatalities to the population data, Pacific Islander and African-American children had the highest rates of child fatalities (4.69 and 4.67 per 100,000 Pacific Islander and African-American children).

In over 20% of the child fatalities that occurred in 2012, the child was exposed to domestic violence in the home.

How many reports of child abuse are made?

Number of reports of child abuse every year in the United States: 2.9 million.

Who reports child abuse?

Reports that came from teachers, law enforcement or legal representatives, or social service providers: 60% (teachers 17%; law enforcement 17%; social service 11%).

Who is most likely to abuse or neglect children?

Of child abuse cases in 2012, in over 80% of the cases the parent was the perpetrator.

In 2012, more than four-fifths (82.2%) of perpetrators were between the ages of 18 and 44 years while two-fifths (39.6%%) of perpetrators were in the 25-34 age group.

Of the 2012 child abuse cases, 45.3% of the perpetrators were male and 53.5% were female.

What can happen to children who are abused or neglected?

As children:

Babies who are victims of shaken baby syndrome can suffer bleeding in the eye or brain; damage to the spinal cord and neck; rib and bone fractures. One in every four victims of shaken baby syndrome dies, and nearly all victims experience serious health consequences. Child physical abuse can result in the malformation of the brain, resulting in impaired mental development and lack of growth in vital areas.

Child abuse victims as young as three years of age have shown signs of depression and withdrawal symptoms.

Child abuse victims are more likely to exhibit anti-social behaviors, including borderline personality disorders and violent behavior.

Child abuse victims placed in foster or kinship care because of abuse or neglect were found to score lower than other students in tests of cognitive capacity, language development, and academic achievement.

Child abuse and maltreatment can have a multitude of long-term effects on physical health.  Research has found that during the following three years after the maltreatment investigation, 28% of abused and neglected children had a chronic health condition.

Nearly half of the infants in foster care who have experienced maltreatment exhibit some form of cognitive delay and have lower IQ scores, language difficulties, and neonatal challenges compared to children who have not been abused or neglected.

As teenagers:

Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy.

In a study of young adults who suffered child abuse or neglect, 80% met criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder by age 21, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicide attempts.

In a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study of homeless youth, it found that 46% of those surveyed had escaped a home where they suffered physical abuse, and 17% left because of sexual abuse.

Children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violence crime.

As adults:

Adults who suffered child abuse and neglect can develop allergies, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, high blood pressure, and ulcers, in addition to other physical disabilities because of poor health caused by the abuse.

Child abuse and neglect have been associated with panic and dissociative disorders, attention deficit and/or hyperactivity disorder, depression, anger, and post-traumatic stress disorder in children and in adults who suffered abuse.

Adults who were abused or neglected as children are more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs during their lifetimes. A study found that as many as two-thirds of individuals in drug treatment programs reported being abused as children.

Continuing the cycle of abuse:

Researchers estimate that one-third of abused and neglected children will grow up to abuse their own children when they become parents.

How much can child abuse cost?

$124 billion — estimated minimum annual cost of child abuse to U.S. communities to provide:

  • Healthcare to treat mental illnesses, substance abuse, mental and physical disabilities, and other health-related issues
  • Child welfare and protection
  • Law enforcement and court systems allocation to handle juvenile and adult criminal cases
  • Special education costs
  • Unemployment and underemployment services and benefits



1.) “Child Abuse Facts,” adapted from the Safe Horizon website, accessed in May, 2016, [WWW document], URL